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The Neocaridina Story

Posted by Demin Wong on
The Neocaridina Story

The shrimp hobby has been in the industry for many years. In my years of shrimp keeping and going into the business, I would say that it is one hell of an adventure. Today, I like to take you through the timeline of Neocaridina right when it started, till the present time today in 2022.

Somewhere back in the 1990s, Neocaridina got introduced into the market with the first commercialized variant, the “Cherry shrimp”. Back then, they were classified under Neocaridina Heteropoda. But prior to that, there were even more complicated names given to them like Neocaridina cf Zhangiajiensis. Eventually it was reclassified back to Neocaridina Davidi. There is no English literature on this, but I like to think that the taxonomist got tired of saying that long name.

Neocaridina Davidi was founded in China circa 1989 and brought back to Taiwan by hobbyist. The wild form comes in a grey shade with no distinct coloration. One day, while breeding these shrimps, one hobbyist found that the color of the shrimp started to turn pinkish and selectively bred these pinkish shrimps to have a full light red body which was named “Cherry shrimps”. Neocaridina reproduces at a very high rate and not long after the appearance of “Cherry shrimps”, it is being commercialized and exported all over the world retailing at approximately $8 – 10 SGD per piece back then.

This has been great business for the commercial farms in Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Eventually, new shade of red started to appear and were sold at a higher price. There were many names created for the different shade of red, but it varies internationally. The list below is one that is more commonly used.

1) Cherry Red
2) Sakura Red
3) Fire Red
4) Painted Fire Red
5) Kanoko Red

These days, as the red have been intensified for many years, they are mostly sold as Fire Reds from the farm and the reds are then slowly differentiated when it arrives at the retailer.

During this period, Malaysia and Indonesia have been mass producing the Cherry shrimp at a high rate but without any quality control. The focus for them was to just sell the existing Cherry shrimps to the market. Taiwan and Thailand on the other hand had been trying to improve the intensity of red on the Cherry shrimp.

If you put Thailand’s and Taiwan’s Fire Red together, they have two completely different shade of red. The Thai ones have a more matte color while the ones from Taiwan have a more neon red color. They are both equally stunning. More different shade of red started to appear, and hobbyist have different names for them like Kanako red or “Painted fire red”.

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the matte red color on the shrimps. This are Thai Fire Red. Very beautiful specimen!

The above picture shows the Fire Red from Taiwan. It has a more bright red color as compared to the Thai ones. The color is very consistent in each batch and have been loved by hobbyist worldwide.

After a good eight years of reproducing red shrimps, the Taiwan farms manage to create a new variant which is the Neocaridina Davidi sp Yellow. This shrimp has a full neon yellow color and was immediately a hit in the market. Based on information gathered from the farms, they exported approximately 50 million Neocaridina in a year during the launch of the Neocaridina Davidi sp Yellow. If you do the math, it’s no surprise to see farmers driving expensive cars back then.

In a short span from year 1999 - 2003, different variants started to appear in the market starting with Red Rili, then Sunkist, Snowball, Blue Jelly and Fantasy Blue. The market immediately got a change of focus to the new variants and pushes the prices of the red and yellow shrimp down. Rili shrimps also became popular because there is finally a two tone Neocaridina that is stable. In around 2004, that is when I got my first Red Rili shrimps. I can still remember the excitement when I got them.

The next shrimp that came into the market was the Chocolate shrimp. When it was launched around 2009, they storm the market retailing at approximately $15 a piece. That was a pretty insane price for a Neocaridina but it still sells out. In the same year, Orange rili and Blue rili also appeared in the market but it wasn't that popular mainly because most of the focus was on the Chocolate shrimp.

During this time, new variants are mostly created in Taiwan as they have specific farms meant for breeding Neocaridina in the southern part of Taiwan. Other variants like the Carbon rili and Blue rili are then selected from the pool of Blue Fantasy to create new variants for the market. They have never stopped improving and the next variant that appear holds a key memory to MADSHRIMP.

The green variant of Neocaridina was introduced very early in the market around 1990s but was not mentioned above because it was actually the green Caridina Babaulti from India. The local shops classify and sold them as green Neocaridina but they were not. The actual green Neocaridina A.K.A Green Jades were launched in 2016, the same time when we found the company MADSHRIMP. We got to see first hand the different shade of green from Green Jade to Peacock Green in Taiwan. It was very new back then and colors were not that stable. Shortly after 2018, we learned that the color has been stabalized but there is still different shade of green each time.

In 2020, we see the Red Onyx surfaced into the market. They were only available in Singapore and some Europe countries. It is unknown why this variant was not distributed to others. The Red Onyx have a rusty red color on its body which gives some the impression that it is bred out from Chocolate shrimps. After speaking to the farms, I learnt that they are actually selected from the Bloody Mary pool.

In the same year, Golden Sands also appear as a new variant in the market and this will be the latest variant till date. Golden Sands have a golden orange color with thick masking on the back of its body. I love how this shrimp looks like mini gold bars in your tank.

There is also another variant that recently surfaced again after the Golden Sand, which the local retailers named them as Gold Dust. The Gold Dust comes from Thailand and shows a more pale yellow with some masking on the back as well. You can compare the two different shrimps from the pictures here. Gold Dust was founded roughly around year 2000 but didn't gain popularity as the Golden Back Yellow was more well liked by many hobbyist.

 There you have a brief timeline of the Neocaridina shrimps. I look forward to see new variation coming from these shrimps. As we know that Neocaridina are selectively bred and not cross bred, and also they are not compatible to breed with the Caridina species, you will be surprise to know that they in fact, are able to be cross bred with the Caridina species but only specific variants. I will leave that for our next article so be sure to stay tune for it.

We can now export worldwide at a very compatible price, for wholesalers who like to reach out, feel free to drop me an email at demin@madshrimp.com. Happy shrimping!

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